by Betsy Everett
With tin cans and toilet roll tubes, coffee machine capsules and cast-off plastics, the annual Christmas tree festival in Askrigg parish church has a new twist on a classic theme this year.
The festival draws visitors to the 16th century St Oswald’s church with a display of villagers’ hand-crafted decorations on traditional Christmas trees, lighting up the church in the dark days of Advent.
This year, however, organiser Elizabeth Fawcett invited contributors to create imaginative “alternative” trees – and she wasn’t disappointed.
Ian Betteridge, who had never decorated a tree before, and the housekeeping team from the Low Mill outdoor centre, fashioned a simple but effective structure from empty cans, topping it off with a corkscrew bearing an uncanny (no pun intended) resemblance to an angel.
One family decorated the bare branches of last year’s tree with single-use plastic items: bottle tops, carton lids, the lid from a Marmite jar, and plastic straws, to great effect. Organist Malcom Carruthers and Karen Jones, of Skelgill, turned coffee capsules into organ stops for their unique creation, while Catherine Madley’s tree was a simple but stunning structure made from bamboo canes and tinsel. Tennis balls and toilet roll tubes were transformed into angels by the many groups who meet at the Yorebridge Sport and Leisure Centre, while friends Karen Sorsby and Rhian Liddell created an alternative tree using green and gold parcels.
More traditional but no less effective were the Crown Inn’s knit and natter group’s creations which needed not one but two trees to accommodate them, and mother and daughter team Eleanor Scarr and Melanie Clarkson’s finely crafted Christmas mice.
Elizabeth Fawcett, who organised the display, said she was “blown away” by the creativity and skill of all the contributors.
“There are some beautifully decorated traditional trees as there are every year, but this time we invited people to think of alternative ways of approaching the task. Everyone has been incredibly creative in interpreting that and the display is, I think, the best ever,” she said.